Ancient and Modern Alchemy

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The number of books in the English language dealing with the interesting subject of Alchemy is not sufficiently great to render an apology necessary for adding thereto. Indeed, at the present time there is an actual need for a further contribution on this subject. The time is gone when it was regarded as perfectly legitimate to point to Alchemy as an instance of the aberrations of the human mind. Recent experimental research has brought about profound modifications in the scientific notions regarding the chemical elements, and, indeed, in the scientific concept of the physical universe itself; and a certain resemblance can be traced between these later views and the theories of bygone Alchemy. The spontaneous change of one “element” into another has been witnessed, and the recent work of Sir William Ramsay suggests the possibility of realising the old alchemistic dream—the transmutation of the “base” metals into gold.

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